Articles

Click the articles below to learn about the events, conversations, and developments taking place in the West of England as narrated by the regional Scale up Enabler.

On Tuesday 13th November the ScaleUp Institute hosted their Annual Review - an opportunity to learn from the best in the scaleup ecosystem and discover insights about this community of fast growth, forward-thinking companies and their support infrastructure. In this run-down the event, our West of England Scale up Enabler shares her eight most interesting observations from the event and the report.

It’s been a little too long since my last regular Scale up Enabler update so here I am, making up for lost time and sharing the latest news in West of England scale up land. For those of you that missed the memo, in June 2018 Engine Shed made the role permanent, with some initial support from WECA (The West of England Combined Authority). This marked the start of a new era in which I work 50% on all things scale up (more on that later) and 50% as Associate Director for Engine Shed.

‘People powered investment’ provided the theme for the third Quarterly Investment Briefing. At the event over 30 active or potentially active investors, managers of investors and enablers of investment activity gathered to hear from a couple of speakers and to share, learn and network. Read on to find out what we talked about.

You’re an Entrepreneur who knows your business better than anyone; you understand your market, your customer and your business potential. You’re working harder than ever, managing ever changing scenarios, and often covering sales, contract negotiations, marketing, IT and HR to get everything done. It seems the more successful you are, the more there is to do. Sound familiar?

Scale Up 101

6th August 2018

The notion of a 'scale up' is a relatively new one - a phrase which was first coined in 2014 and which is increasingly common. But how can you help others understand?

Engine Shed has hosted a series of events since the arrival of the Scale up Enabler in June 2017. This blog explains the topics we've covered so far and what we have planned for the future.

In March 2018, Engine Shed launched a new initiative to help invigorate the investment ecosystem in the West of England. This series of events and newsletters are designed to enable investors to share, learn and network more effectively.

It's that time of year again when the Scale up Institute ask all scale up/fast growth founders to complete their annual survey. Please take 15 minutes to help put the West of England on the map with respect to how many scale ups are here, how engaged they are and what support exists for them (and where the gaps are).

As the 12 month Scale up Enabler experiment comes to an end, we are committed to continuing support for scale up companies, and to supporting and enabling those organisations across the ecosystem who work to support scale ups. Read on to find out more about our future plans.

Yesterday we hosted a Quarterly Investment Briefing event here at Engine Shed. The session was the second in a series of four for the year and focused on the broad theme of Regional Investment - both raising money in the region, and investing from the region. For the uninitiated, the Quarterly Investment Briefing is a gathering solely of investors designed to support networking, learning and sharing across the West of England (and beyond) with the ultimate goal of invigorating the investment ecosystem.

On Thursday 3rd May, Engine Shed hosted an exclusive dinner in Brunel’s Board Room to discuss the opportunities for and potential impact of a regional investment fund. Using our position as an ‘honest broker’ in the region, we brought together investment focused stakeholders from three key groups – public sector, private sector and owners of nascent fund propositions for the region.

On Thursday 24th April, Rod Beer (Community Director at the UKBAA) led a 2-hour workshop to help attendees become ‘effective investors’ – specifically for existing and budding angel investors. Rod provided a useful overview of the UKBAA, the UK Business Angels Association to the uninitiated, and described it as the trade body for early stage investing.

What exactly is a scale up company and how useful is the definition any way?

In this blog I answer some important questions including what exactly is a Quarterly Investment Briefing and what happened at the inaugural event?

Lately I have turned my desktop research skills (and many conversations with regional scale-up supporters) into a summary of the investment landscape for the West of England.

My name is Will Dunlop and I am a post-graduate University of Bristol student, soon to complete my MSc in Economics, Finance and Management. I began my Scale Up Business Internship in December, 2017. In this blog I've shared some reflections on the internship that I just completed at Engine Shed.

‘Leadership capacity’ is mentioned by many scale-up founders that I speak to as an area of need – it’s also identified by the Scale-up Institute as the 3rd most significant challenge that businesses they survey face.

Business West have invited founders of tech businesses who are experiencing challenges securing office space to sign an open letter which invites the public sector to make an intervention.

Last week PwC announced the 12 companies who will join them as inaugural members of the Scale South West Programme.

Scale-up Enabler: Q2 Update

14th February 2018

With 8 months of the initial 12 month contract complete, this blog shares insights into progress made, plans for the remaining few months and opportunities for collaboration.

There are a growing number of scale up support programmes in the West of England (and nationally) designed to help unlock funding, develop leadership skills and to plan for growth. This blog provides a single place to explore what's on offer.

Whether you’re moving from your home office to a co-working space or from a 6-person to a 20-person office (or bigger), the process is significantly different to finding a new home. With over 600 fast-growth companies in the West of England, and an even greater number of start-up businesses hot on their heels, I’ve asked some local experts for their ‘top tips’ for office relocation

The Scale up Briefing series has become a growing presence on the event scene in Bristol. On Wednesday 17th January, I invited scale up supporters and leaders to come together and consider how best to raise £1M or more in the region.

After a few months in post, it became clear that we need to be more informed about the great accolades and awards that our region receives. This blog lists a range of highlights over the last few years.

Yesterday I hosted my first event at Engine Shed – the inaugural Scale-up Pow Wow kindly supported by Smith & Williamson.

Scale up is a popular theme for events - particularly at this time of year. I've attended a few conferences and events over the last few weeks and these are my reflections.

Long before the appointment of the Scale up Enabler in June 2017, access to investment has been recognised as a challenge for founders in the West of England. With close geographical proximity to London, it's often assumed that founders will court investors there and this takes them away from running their business at a pivotal time, for often an extended period.

Talent and Skills is often identified in the West of England as a significant challenge however, it has barely been mentioned in the scale-up interviews that have informed the scale-up project work.

The Scale up Institute describes this challenge as being focused on selling into 'both government and large corporate companies' which is more difficult due to complicated procurement processes and the time taken to win a contract - and that's only after spotting the relevant contracts to bid for.

The leadership capacity challenge is felt most acutely by those founders not associated with an incubator or support system. Whether they are grappling with their own leadership development or recruiting their key senior hires into the business, this challenge has a few different interpretations which are explored here.

In the original Scale up Institute definition, infrastructure takes into account challenges that are both digital and physical. In the West of England, we suffer with an acute shortage of suitable, affordable and available office space so this has become the focus for this work.

After the first 4 months working as the West of England Scale up Enabler, I brought together a few reflections, an update on my progress and some ideas for the future.

Are you interested to find some peer to peer founder support? Read on to find out more about the various support organisations available in the West of England.

This article provides a snapshot of a conversation that has been going on in pockets across the region for at least 18 months including the nature of the problem, some of the solutions that exist and some ideas for the future.

Has your business grown more than 20% in turnover or employee numbers in the last year? Do you have plans to grow that quickly in the next couple of years? If you are, we would very much like to hear from you. The West of England region has ambitions to build the best possible ecosystem for scale-up businesses in the country. To achieve this, we need to know what your greatest challenges are, and what support or resources you need to overcome them.

Last week I was lucky enough to attend the launch of the ScaleUp Institute’s latest report ‘SME Finance Monitor: The Scale-up Perspective’ which was hosted at the London Stock Exchange, these are my reflections.

In June 2017, Engine Shed, the West of England Growth Hub, Business West and the University of Bristol announced a collaborative project to explore and help solve the challenges faced by scale up companies in the region.